This French Apple Cake is less cake than sautéed apples set in a thick custardy crumb set in a golden sugar sprinkled crust. By browning the butter this recipe is more concentrated in flavor. Instead of using a spatula to scrape all of the brown butter out of the pan, simply pour the butter into a small bowl leaving a coating of beautiful browned butter lining the pan to cook the apple slices with two tablespoons of sugar. The caramelization will boost the flavor and ensure your cake will not end up with a soggy bottom. There’s nothing pretentious about this dessert. It’s an any day toss together cake with a little of this and a little of that resulting in a cross between a pie, a tarte tatin and a cake. It may seem simple with no frosting or sauce but, when you taste it, you’ll quickly discover it’s delicious in its simplicity. Brown butter makes everything good. That should be a bumper sticker.
- 8 tablespoons or one stick of salted butter plus more for the pan
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples peeled, cord, cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 1 pound Braeburn or golden delicious apples, peeled, cord and cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 12 tablespoons of white sugar divided
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons Brandy or Calvado’s
- 2/3 cup all purpose flour plus more for the pan
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- two large eggs at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- powdered sugar for serving if desired
- Heat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the middle position. Coat a 9-inch spring form pan with butter, dust with flour, then tap out the excess.
- In a 12-inch skillet, over medium high heat, melt the butter. Cook, swirling the pan frequently, until the milk solids are golden brown and the butter has a nutty aroma (1-3 minutes). Pour into a small, heatproof bowl. Don’t scrape the skillet, as the remaining butter will be used. Stir allspice into the butter and set aside.
- Add all the apples, 2 teaspoons of sugar and the salt to the still-hot skillet and set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the moisture released by the apples has evaporated and the apples are beginning to brown (12 to 15 minutes). Add the Brandy and cook until evaporated (30 to 60 seconds). Transfer to a large plate, spread in an even layer and refrigerate – uncovered – until cool to the touch (15 to 20 minutes).
- In a small bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, vanilla and 9 tablespoons of sugar; gradually whisk in the butter.
Add the flour mixture and stir until smooth; the batter will be very thick. Add the cooked apples and fold until evenly coated. Transfer to the prepared pan, spread in an even layer and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake until deeply browned (35 to 40 minutes). Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack (about two hours).
- Once ready to serve, run a knife around the inside of the pan and remove the sides before slicing.